At Marker Seven, we take user experience very seriously. That’s why, when we were presented with the opportunity to attend (virtually) Dani Nordin’s O’Reilly Webinar, “Bringing strategic UX to Drupal projects” (http://oreillynet.com/pub/e/2330), we excitedly gathered in the conference room and fired up the presentation on our big screen. Dani’s insightful talk on strategizing user experience engendered a discussion amongst the M7 team about what we do, and more importantly, why we do it.
For both our internal teams and our clients, we recognize the importance of strategic planning and trust in our tried and true process (http://markerseven.com/work/process/discover): discover, define, design, develop, implement, and evaluate.
Every Marker Seven project is developed using this high-level methodology, which combines detailed analysis of individual user needs and an understanding of our clients’ long-term business strategies.
But what makes this process so effective? We believe that our strength lies in the collaborative process between our in-house team and our clients. We understand the importance of setting expectations early and working with our clients throughout the entirety of our partnership. While we tailor the deliverables and processes to the needs of each specific project, we also trust that by sticking to an iterative, phased approach, we ensure a timely and systematic project trajectory, with the expectation that the process of ideation and iteration allows for exploration, creativity, and ambiguity. In other words, we offer a structured creative space in which to envision the best solution for each specific design problem we tackle. We’ve also identified three key factors in determining the success of a project:
The importance of setting goals
We know that it is crucial to develop three sets of goals to guide the direction of the project. These include client and stakeholder goals (usually involving business strategy and success metrics), user goals (related to specific tasks and interactions a user will perform, and how they feel about the service or application they are using), as well as our own internal team goals (related to open communication with clients and the completion of projects on time and within budget). By establishing goals at the beginning of every new project, we essentially create a litmus test for its success.
The importance of talking to real users
User interviews offer a fascinating glimpse into how people use applications and services in ways that weren’t intended. User research is crucial to the user experience process. Whether this means conducting phone interviews, running card sorts, or offering a plethora of other user research activities, we understand the crucial need to talk to our clients’ user base to truly understand the specific goals and needs that our solution will support.
The importance of supporting the content development process
Along with user goals and research, we also recognize that our clients may need guidance in determining the kinds of information they want to display in their web service or application. That’s why we work closely with our clients to provide them guidance throughout the entirety of our process, providing “homework” to help them determine the types of content they will need to create, and to ensure that the solutions we build support that content.
Ultimately, the user experience process relies on a strong partnership between the client and the solution provider. Thanks again to @danigrrl, for her great webinar, and for inspiring us to take a step back and analyze our own processes here at Marker Seven. We are fortunate to work with fabulous clients who make the journey extremely rewarding!